We recently conducted a LinkedIn poll asking business leaders which function or metric would most improve their IT service desk support. Out of four options (faster response time, first contact resolution, self-service options, and the ability to scale on demand), the clear winner – with 50% of the total votes – was option two: First Contact Resolution (FCR).
FCR is term used by Service Desks and other contact centres to measure the number of customer support queries successfully resolved first time, therefore eliminating the need for follow-up calls or further customer support.
As well as measuring the level of end-user requests resolved quickly, FCR is also considered a standard performance metric and is often detailed in the Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the managed service provider and its customer.
FCR is typically measured in one of two ways: either a), the service desk agent checks a box on the ticket at the conclusion of the call or chat session to indicate that the call was successfully concluded upon first contact, or b), customers are asked in follow-up customer satisfaction surveys whether their calls were resolved upon initial contact with the Service Desk.
Why First Contact Resolution is critical for IT Service Desks
It seems obvious that a high FCR is almost always associated with high levels of customer satisfaction and service efficiency (after all, nobody wants to wait around for issues to be resolved when there’s work to be done). However, FCR is also a measure of other things, such as how well-trained and experienced service engineers are, how effectively they can communicate, what tools they have to hand, and the type and complexity of IT issues reported to them.
Below we consider five reasons organisations should choose an IT service provider that values and can provide evidence of significant FCR:
1. The FCR metric acts as a window to the inner workings of your organisation
Strong business leaders understand that people are the most important element in any organisation’s technology strategy. As such, the IT Service Desk is a strategic and meaningful window into your employees’ world, allowing organisations to understand how the systems in place really perform for end users and how this measures up against business goals.
If users are reporting slow resolution speeds and low FCR from their IT Service Desk, then it’s time to ask questions. Response times differ drastically from one service provider to the next, and – just because an issue doesn’t seem like an urgent problem to first-line support – doesn’t mean it won’t hold up crucial business processes, resulting is lack of productivity and lost revenue.
Slow resolution speeds can also damage your organisation’s reputation, leaving customers dissatisfied with your service and causing employees to skip vital processes or miss deadlines.
2. Poor FCR can lead to high staff churn
We know that FCR is linked to user experience – after all, if users are battling long wait-times and lost tickets, or if they’re having to make multiple IT support calls about reoccurring or relatively simple issues, this will ultimately impact their job performance and could even land them in hot water at work.
Indeed, tying your employees’ hands with an inefficient and under-experienced Service Desk quickly leads to dissatisfaction, frustration, and high levels of stress, and it’s likely that organisations with these type of IT challenges will see higher sickness absence and more staff churn than average.
As well as increased stress levels for users, low FCR can also undermine your workplace culture, gradually eating away at your employees’ morale and inspiration as work piles up, complaints mount, and fundamental IT tools necessary for productive work aren’t easily accessible.
This kind of demoralisation can lead to high staff turnover rates and increased, constant recruitment costs. It can also make it difficult to attract the best talent, as ex-employees may leave comments on company review sites and social media describing their ordeal.
3. FCR is a measure of organisational knowledge
A poor FCR score usually denotes poor business performance and this can be down to the Service Desk’s lack of organisational or industry-specific knowledge.
After all, the Service Desk may know IT in and out, but it’s also important for it also to understand how specific sectors and industries operate. Specific organisational knowledge allows Service Desk agents to quickly understand IT users’ issues while also building a rapport that improves the user experience. Gaps in knowledge in this area can lead to misunderstandings about impact and urgency levels, user expectations, and other operational challenges.
Low FCR when it comes to these areas can also denote a lack of collaboration and communication between the Service Desk and the organisation it serves. This can be a huge red flag, suggesting an inability to support or understand the organisation’s long-term goals. In turn this may suggest that the Service Desk provider cannot be an effective partner or bring real business value to the table.
To be effective, your IT Service Desk should know your business and understand its goals, operating as an extension of your team rather than a separate entity.
4. FCR enables remote working
Remote working relies heavily on technology and requires additional cyber-security measures to protect your data and your users. If your IT Service Desk is not easily accessible to remote workers or is sluggish to resolve simple IT challenges such as connectivity or account access issues, this can spell bad news for your organisation’s overall output and information security. This is particularly true of recent times where many organisations have had to scramble to enable remote working and catch up with delayed or under-investment in modern workplace technologies.
Additionally, when working remotely, it’s vital that users can communicate between themselves quickly and effectively. Being able to easily access cloud-based software, collaboration tools, and video conferencing software is as much a cultural necessity as it is a productivity one.
Remember, perception is everything when it comes to IT services, and if your Service Desk cannot facilitate and manage user –experience via significant FCR, this can lead to a loss in user-confidence and diminishment of service uptake. This is the last thing hybrid working organisations want to take place, since remote work relies very much on trust and flexibility.
5. High FCR denotes good process management
Low levels of FCR can be a sign of bigger problems for Service Desk providers, many of which come down to poor process management and communication problems between your organisation and the Service Desk itself.
Things such as substandard Service Desk training, lack of standardisation, and difficulties pin-pointing reoccurring issues all result in low FCR for the end user and are signs that the Service Desk in question is in over its head. Process issues can also cloud the ‘real’ picture making it difficult for organisations to introduce appropriate improvements and causing problems to repeat and growth to stagnate.
Hiring an experienced and knowledgeable Managed Service Provider that prioritises user experience through FCR is a critical first step in meeting your organisational goals.